November 01, 2023

Photo Essay: The Return of the Once-Dead WeHo Halloween Carnaval

I haven't been to the West Hollywood Halloween Carnaval every single Halloween night since I moved into the neighborhood—but I always liked knowing it was there as an option.

When I walked Santa Monica Boulevard back in October 2019, I had no idea that the street festival wouldn't return the next year—or the next, and next.

By Halloween 2022, the City of West Hollywood had declared that after the pandemic pause of the event, nobody in charge was very interested in bringing it back. 

And there was a community uproar. 

After all, the event brings a lot of business into the neighborhood—and it's a tremendous resource for those that want to go out and do something on Halloween night that's not necessarily drinking in a bar or a club, and doesn't necessarily require any driving. 

I know I love leaving my car at home and being able to just walk right over, and then walk home whenever I'm done.

So it was pretty exciting to witness the return of the WeHo Carnaval this year, four years since all those costumed revelers had been able to take over the boulevard.

This year, as with prior years, plenty of people visited West Hollywood for the festivities...

...some ready to stand still and pose for plenty of photos...

...and others parading about along the one-mile route, seeing as much as they're seen.
I always dress up for the amble through the crowd, though I'm there much more to document those around me rather than to draw any attention to myself. 

This year I found the costumed crowd more willing than ever to be photographed and filmed...

...and more likely to break out into a dance or a strut, along to the music blasting out of speakers on the median or to the beat of their own drum. 

The celebratory feeling, the relief that the carnaval was back, the gratitude for the communal carousing—it was all palpable. 

And because it was Halloween night, it was plenty spooky, too.  
Every year that I go, I start at the western end, walk about a mile to the eastern end, and then walk back to where I started.

This year, that didn't feel like enough—so I found myself double-backing and retracing my steps to try to see what I might've missed.

But it's impossible to see it all, no matter how early you go or how late you stay. 

Maybe that's what keeps me coming back every couple of years. 

You can watch my video compilation of footage from the 2023 Halloween Carnaval in the embedded player above, or directly on Instagram or Facebook.

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